Style: Subcultures and Fashion

Style: Subcultures and Fashion

In the last couple of decades, many different subcultures emerged. Young people have always wanted to express themselves in a unique way, and many of them, while growing up, were not satisfied with what mainstream culture offered. They found the ‘escape’ through, most often, music and art, and then it started showing in their clothing too. Subcultures are often misunderstood, even demonised, but recently they have been getting more recognition and acceptance. There are many aspects of every subculture, but we will focus on the fashion expression of some of the most famous ones.


Gothic fashion is recognisable by mostly black clothing, dark makeup and dark hair. The black can be combined with other colors, such as white, dark red, or dark purple, but it should always be kept as the main colour. Gothic clothing often features occult or religious imagery, making some people consider it creepy. Lace, corsets, and chokers are among the favourite details for Goths. Their influences often come from punk fashion and Victorian era.


Punk is one of the first subcultures to gain ‘fame’, emerging in the 1970s. When it first appeared, loud and aggressive, many people were strongly against it, and the punk clothing played a role in that for sure. It is characterised by torn clothing, using everyday items as accessories (safety pins, razor blades), using markers and paint to make the clothing more unique, and bright coloured mohawks styled in spikes.


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Emo is a shortcut for ’emotional’, and it is a subculture mostly embraced by teenagers. Its fashion could be described as a softer version of goth fashion, where black is still dominant, but combined with some bright or pastel colours, such as pink. It is also usually lacking the ‘morbid’ aspects of the goth fashion. For example, if there are some skulls on their clothing, they will usually be made ‘cute’. It also includes more ordinary clothing items, such as skinny jeans and graphic tees. One thing the emos are extremely recognizable for is the emo haircut, usually dyed black, with long bangs covering one eye.


Lolita is a trend coming from Japan, based on the aesthetic of cuteness. It is mostly influenced by the Rococo period and children’s clothing from the Victorian and Edwardian period. It is characteried by hooped skirts (created by wearing a crinoline or petticoat), big bows, and lots of frills. Although it is usually pastel based, there is quite a big following for a gothic lolita style, that combines the lolita aesthetic with gothic darkness.


Steampunk Family the von Hedwigs [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Steampunk is based on the idea of an alternative history in which people, instead of using electricity, kept using engines powered by steam for everything. It is characterised by combination of the Victorian look and mechanical, often extremely detailed, accessories, such as goggles. The modern influences are usually modified to look more Victorian before being used.


You could call the hippies one subculture that started it all. While protesting against the Vietnam War in the 1960s, their clothing choices also signified a protest against the establishment and uniformity. Characterised by bold colours, loose and wavy clothing, long hair and beard, and beady jewellery, their clothing was usually bought in second-hand shops and flea markets, to fight against consumerism.

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